People of all ages have a place to learn and create with clay, thanks to the new clay studio at Artisans at the Dahmen Barn in Uniontown. Classes for adults and children begin this month.More than five years ago, organizers at the Dahmen Barn decided to expand their programs and space. As a result, the Loafing Shed was built next to the existing barn and includes the clay studio, two more studios, a teaching kitchen and event space. The clay studio is the only one of its type currently available to the public in the area, said Leslee Miller, barn manager.
“It’s pretty unique,” Miller said. “We’re excited to be able to offer it.”
This July, area children made inaugural use of the space during four art days that included a session in clay. The ceramics classes are taught by Debi Robinson-Smith of Moscow, who works with fiber art and clay, and Kassie Smith of Moscow, who has a master of fine arts in ceramics and instructs the introduction to ceramics class at the University of Idaho.
“They were wonderful to work with and they had a ball,” Robinson-Smith said. “They all seemed to really get into it, though a few were tentative at first.”
Kids ages 5 to 16 made treasure boxes, animal piggy banks and more using hand-building techniques. The projects were scaled to skill level, so that more advanced skill levels could elaborate on simple projects that everyone could do.
“A couple times they got so into building something that they would be completely silent,” Smith said.
The ceramics course for kids will focus on hand-building techniques and offer single-class options for kids who are not able to attend all six weeks of instruction.
The ceramics class for adults will provide instruction on both wheel-throwing and hand-building techniques. They’ll be offered at two different time slots, but will cover the same material with Robinson-Smith instructing hand building and Smith instructing wheel throwing.
“The idea is that they will come away with some pottery,” Smith said. Beginning students can expect to make a mug, bowl and plate on the wheel; more advanced students can progress to more complicated forms.
“I’m really old school and traditional in terms of the way I work and teach,” Smith explained. For example, students under her instruction will learn about the chemical makeup of clay, so they can better understand how to work with it.
A majority of the equipment for the studio was donated by the Colton School District, with a proviso that the studio would provide instruction and access to children. Robinson-Smith, who works with students in the school, was involved in arranging for the unused equipment to be donated to the studio and was instrumental in designing the studio space.
The intent is to expand the clay studio program over time, with the idea it will allow those interested in ceramic arts to engage in the entire process.
“We’re emphasizing the creativity party of it; that’s why the barn exists,” Miller said.
Upcoming Clay Studio Events and Classes
All events take place at Artisans at the Dahmen Barn, 419 N. Park Way, Uniontown
Clay Studio Open House
WHEN: 1 to 3 p.m. Sept. 11
Children’s Ceramic Course with Single-Class Options
WHEN: 12:30-2:30 p.m. (ages 5-10) or 3 – 5 p.m. (ages 11-16) for six Saturdays beginning Sept. 17
COST: $200; register by Sept. 13 at www.artisanbarn.org or by calling (509) 229-3414. Single-class options are welcome, but must register by phone or email firstname.lastname@example.org Thursday preceding the Saturday class. Fee includes instruction, materials, use of studio space and tools and firing.
Adult Ceramic Course
WHEN: Noon to 3 p.m. or 3 to 6 p.m. for six Sundays, beginning Sept. 18. Optional open lab sessions offered Mondays or Tuesdays.
COST: $250; register by Sunday at www.artisanbarn.org or by calling (509) 229-3414. Class fee includes instruction, materials, use of studio space and tools; firing available at an additional cost.